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Vietnam Dissemination Activities 2020

Tran Thi Ngoc Lan, Vietnam

Hi, I am Lan from Vietnam. I am a counselor in training at HELP University, Malaysia. As a meditator for over ten years, when I began my journey into psychology study, a friend presented me a book named “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Second Edition: The Process and Practice of Mindful Change by Steven Hayes, Kirk Strosahl, and Kelly Wilson”. The initial exposure to ACT was captivating. Through ACT, I saw the mindfulness processes clearer and I was able to help others understand mindfulness easier. Importantly, I found the behavioral processes which was the missing piece to my practice. ACT fit perfectly into who I am as a person and my value as a counselor. I began to study ACT through books and online courses. In 2018, I contacted Dr. Steven C. Hayes who was very kind to guide me to ACBS community.

I was jumping off the roof when I found out I was given the ACBS 2020 Developing Nations Scholar Award to participate in the ACBS World Conference that took place in New Orleans, USA (July 14th - 19th, 2020). However, due to the break of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had postponed my attendance to ACBS Virtual World Conference (June, 24th – 27th, 2021). Initially, I did not have much exposure with the ACBS community, however I did not once felt alone because ACBS staff was patiently guiding me along the whole journey.

Pre-conference Workshop
I began the conference with the guidance of Dr. Nguyen Thanh Tam who regularly checked on me before, during and after the conference to support my learning process in the best way possible. I entered my first workshop with no expectation and great curiosity. What I found was beyond my imagination and left me out of words to describe Dr. Robyn Walser as a person, as an ACT trainer and ACT therapist who was conducting the workshop. She showed so much depth in simplicity, practicality and humanity. The way I understand ACT forever changed.

Unexpectedly, I also found so much comfort in the transparency and empathy of the participant’s sharing. I shared at the workshop that “I came to this conference to find a way to be a better counselor, but what I found is that we are all in this together and I do not feel alone anymore”. I could see encouragement, empowerment and love in the eyes of the participants clearly despite the distance and the screen.

At the ACBS World Conference
I had attended as many talks as I could during the conference. It would not be fair for me to mention only certain specific individuals who had impacted me in the conference, because each person whom I had a chance to connect with impacted my development in their ways.

But if I was to quote an experience, I can pick the time when I was listening to Dr. Kelly Wilson’s talk, my tears drop like the sky cries through the rain. My mind did not understand yet, but something in me felt deeply seen. I re-watched the talk many times, each time I continued to cry.

The award helped me, a young girl who felt far and invisible from an underdeveloped nation to finally realize many beautiful humans in the world who do not discount another human base on continent, race, status, or any labels. Being in the ACBS World Conference connected me with the spirit of the people who were there to care, support and grow together. It was one of the best conferences I had ever attended. I felt nurtured and belonged. I can still remember the joy and liberations that kept me awake every night after the conference because I felt so charged and alive.

ACBS Community
Even though the conference only took place in four days, yet I have continued to access the support from ACBS community until today. I became friends with Rachel Chan, a counselor from Hong Kong who included me in her ACT Peer Consulting Group and supported me in my ACT study journey. She carries the ACBS spirit and lit the fire in me every time we talk.

I was connected with the president of ACBS Malaysia Chapter, Mr. Eugene Koh Boon Yau who guided me with the supports available in Malaysia. He also connected me with Dr. Wendy and Dr. Nicholas Pang Tze Ping to support my ACT development journey in my internship at Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

I met Paulo Cesar Bozza Junior in the ACBS LAMIC group, who has become my Functional Contextualism, Relational Frame Theory and ACT supervisor. I cannot imagine a human being as beautiful and generous as Paulo.

1. I decided to further my education as I continued to take online courses such as FACT by Dr. Russ Harris, ACT Immersion by Dr. Steven C. Hayes, Value in ACT by Dr. Kelly Wilson. It crystalizes my confidence moving forward with ACT as ACT proves to be deeply congruent with my direction in life, and career.
2. As I enhanced my ACT skills, I applied them to my clients in my practicum and internship cases. I decided to be more consistent with ACT therapy as the foundational approach to my practice.
3. I completed and presented a second research paper on “Zen Practitioners’ Lived Experiences in Marriages” based on theoretical framework of Relational Frame Theory.
4. I offered free training and discussion to my university peers at HELP University, Malaysia.
5. I presented ACT to the wider community, throughout webinars, presentations, sharing events at universities such as Multimedia University Malaysia, bank and corporate organizations such as CIMB Bank Malaysia, and ACT group process which popularize ACT to thousands of Vietnamese within three months through the program Ban oi Khoe Khong, a Vietnam project to support mental health during the pandemic to popularize ACT in both English and Vietnamese.

For me, there are no words precise enough to describe my experiences and gratitude for the chance to attend the ACBS World Conference. The best way I can sum up is “Thank you ACBS for giving me this opportunity.”

While awarded in 2020, Lan attend the virtual conference in 2021.

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